In the midst of trade war with China and after nearly two years of often trading barbs with European leaders, the Trump administration this week said it intends to negotiate trade agreements with Japan, the European Union and the U.K.
At President Trump’s direction, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday notified Congress of the administration’s plans to negotiate three separate trade agreements with Japan, the EU and the U.K. Trump’s first trade action as president in January 2017 was to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was negotiated during the Obama administration and involved 11 countries, including the U.S. and Japan, with Vietnam the other key member.
Trump has prophesied his belief in bilateral trade agreements rather than multilateral ones. He also had the USTR engaged in months long renegotiations of the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement, finally settling on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.
As for the potential new agreements, Lighthizer said, “We are committed to concluding these negotiations with timely and substantive results for American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.”
In officially notifying Congress, the USTR is following the procedures set out in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, often referred to as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which requires ongoing consultations with Congress. These are meant to ensure the USTR develops negotiating positions with the benefit of Congress’s input. The USTR will also publish notices in the Federal Register requesting the public’s input on the direction, focus and content of the trade negotiations.
Trade of U.S. goods and services with Japan totaled an estimated $283.6 billion in 2017. Exports were $114 billion, while imports were $169.5 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Japan was $55.5 billion in 2017, according to government data.
In apparel and textiles, the U.S. imported $483.66 million in goods form Japan in the 12 months through August, a 5.11 percent increase year-over-year. The U.S.exported $557.63 million in goods in the same period, a 6.99 percent gain.
U.S. goods and services trade with the EU was roughly $1.2 trillion in 2017. Exports totaled $527 billion and imports were $627 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with the EU was $100 billion in 2017.
The U.S. imported $4.52 billion worth of textiles and apparel from the 27 EU countries for the year through August, a 12.59 percent increase from the year-ago period. The U.S. exported $2.63 billion worth of goods in the period, a 1.98 percent rise.
U.S. goods and services trade with U.K. reached an estimated $235.9 billion in 2017. Exports were $125.9 billion, while imports were $110.0 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade surplus with U.K. was $15.9 billion in 2017. The U.S. imported $274.97 million in apparel and textiles this year through August, a 8.03 percent gain, while it exported 7.51 percent more goods to reach $673.92 million in value in the period.
The United States needs to negotiate separate deals with the EU and U.K. due to the U.K’s plan to leave the European Union.